OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Cape Verde
CAPITAL: Praia
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 4,033 Sq Km (1,557 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 437,500


LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Cape Verde is an island group or archipelago of ten islands and five islets located in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa. The archipelago is divided into two groups (1.) the Barlayento or windward islands in the north and (2.) the Sotavento or leeward islands in the south. The islands are of volcanic origin and except for the Boa Vista, Maio and Sal are mountainous with rugged cliffs and steep ravines. The coastal plains are semidesert with fine sandy beaches while the mountains are covered by thin forests. Major Cities (pop. est.); Praia 61,700, Mindelo 47,100, Sao Filipe 5,600 (1990). Land Use; forested 1%, pastures 6%, agricultural-cultivated 11%, other 82% (1993).


CLIMATE: Cape Verde has a tropical climate with two seasons. A cool dry season from December to June and a warm season between July and November. Rainfall is low and unreliable with most of it occurring during August and September. The islands suffer from severe shortages of water and rainfall which cause catastrophic and prolonged droughts periodically. Tropical heat and high humidity prevail throughout the year and the conditions are uncomfortable except when fanned by the northeast sea breezes. Average temperature ranges in Praia are from 19 to 25 degrees Celsius (66 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) in February or March to 24 to 29 degrees Celsius (75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in October.


PEOPLE: Around 71% of the population are Creoles of mixed Black African and Portuguese descent while the remainder are almost all Black Africans with a small number of Whites.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 85 persons per sq km (219 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 29.7% urban, 70.3% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 48.0% male, 52.0% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 60.0 years male, 64.0 years female (1992). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15, 31% 15 to 29, 10% 30 to 44, 7% 45 to 59, 7% 60 and over (1990). Birth Rate; 48.0 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 10.0 per 1,000 (1992). Increase Rate; 38.0 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 61.0 per 1,000 live births (1992).


RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with the Creoles and the majority of the Black Africans of the Roman Catholic faith which accounts for around 98% of the population.


LANGUAGES: The official language is Portuguese, although the national language is a Portuguese Creole known as Crioulo.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling or incomplete primary 84.2%, primary 12.4%, secondary 1.7%, higher 0.5%, not specified 1.2% (1980). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 73,500 or 47.4% (1985).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Cape Verde became a Portuguese overseas province in June 1951 and its people assumed a greater role in the government. During the mid 1950's the African Party for the independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) fought to overthrow the Portuguese rule in both Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau). Following the April 1974 coup in Portugal a transitional government administered the islands until independence was granted on July 5, 1975. Additionally, Portuguese Guinea gained independence in 1974 and during the later part of the 1970's the two nations held discussions about uniting under one government. However, relations were soured by the Nov. 1980 coup in Guinea-Bissau and disagreements between the two countries ended the discussions. In June 1982 reconciliation talks were held and in 1988 the two countries signed a cooperation agreement. In Jan. 1986 Pres. Aristides Pereira was reelected. In Jan. 1988 social tensions increased when laws decriminalizing abortion were passed. In March 1990 the ruling party announced that the constitution would be amended allowing for multiparty elections. In Sept. 1990 the constitutional amendments allowing multi-partyism were passed. On Jan. 13, 1991 the country's first national multiparty election resulted in the defeat of the ruling African Party for the independence of Cape Verde (PAIC) by the Movement for Democracy (MPD) led by Carlos Veiga. 1991 Pres. Pereira was defeated in presidential elections by Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro who was sworn in as President on Mar. 22, 1991. On Dec. 15, 1991 the country's local multiparty elections were held with the ruling MPD winning 10 out of the 14 councils while the PAIC won three. In 1992 the government under Prime Minister Viega initiated a program of privatization of existing state enterprises and that the state bank would be split into a conventional central bank and a commercial bank with each to be funded by local and foreign capital. In Jan. 1993 Prime Minister Viega announced the privatization of a number of industries would be carried out over the next four years and an economic reform program would be drafted for immediate implementation. In Aug. 1993 there were reports of an attempted coup, although it was officially denied.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Escudo (CVEsc) divided into 100 Centavos.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $347,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $148,000,000 (1993). Imports; CVEsc 12,387,000,000 (1993). Exports; CVEsc 312,200,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; CVEsc -12,075,000,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 120,565 or 35.3% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 25.8% (1990).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Portugal, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Basalt, Beans, Coffee, Kaolin, Livestock, Maize, Pozzuolana, Salt, Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Yams.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Canning, Cement, Fishing, Food Processing.

MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Coffee, Fish, Salt.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 5,615 km (3,489 mi) (1987). Vehicles; cars 13,027 (1988), trucks and buses 4,356 (1988). Merchant Marine; vessels 40 (1990), deadweight tonnage 29,730 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 122,959,000 (76,403,000 passenger-mi) (1987), cargo ton-km 2,345,000 (1,606,000 short ton-mi) (1987).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; nil. Radio; receivers 57,000 (1994). Television; receivers 5,000 (1987). Telephones; units 15,000 (1994).


MILITARY: 1,100 (1994) total active duty personnel with 90.9% army, 0.0% navy and 9.1% air force while military expenditure accounts for 1.0% (1992) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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